Ex-CIA chief Hayden says Pakistan will overcome challenges

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WASHINGTON: Former CIA director Michael Hayden has hailed Pakistan’s ongoing operation, Zarb-i-Azb, in North Waziristan and voiced confidence that the country would ride out multiple problems.

Hayden, who led the Central Intelligence Agency between 2006 and 2008, also said the United States should help Pakistan in bringing development to terrorism-afflicted areas.

The US, he said, has not been nearly good enough in that kind of effort.

“When I was in government, we tried to build economic opportunity zones in the tribal region with the Pakistani government,” he said in reference to the George W Bush administration’s move.

The United States could not get move through Congress because there were objections from American labor unions with regard to labor laws in Pakistan. “Those are the kinds of things, we need to do. We need to change conditions on the ground to give the people in the tribal region economic opportunity,” he told APP, after a discussion organized at the annual convention of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America.

Hayden said he understood the Pakistani concerns vis- a-vis TTP militants’ safe havens on the Afghan soil and stressed the need for Pakistan-Afghanistan cooperation against militant sanctuaries on both sides of the border.

Hayden, who also served as National Security Agency Director from 1999 to 2005, said he thought that Pakistan army would never enter North Waziristan. “But they have, and I am very heartened to see that. I think that is a very positive sign. Very hard work,” There should be followed up steps to improve education, reconstruct the areas and create economic opportunity for the people, Hayden argued while referring to the importance of clear, hold and build aspects of the counter-terrorism strategy.

“It requires education, and economic development,” he said.

In interviews with Pakistani private news channels Hayden highlighted the significance of Pakistan-Afghanistan cooperation.

“We understand the problem of safe havens on both sides of the border. What we need our two friends Afghanistan and Pakistan to work hard to eliminate those safe havens and to cooperate with one another.“

And if our continued presence there makes that easier that in itself is a good reason for us to stay (in Afghanistan), he said.

“I understand. But I visited Kabul. And I heard the same thing from the Afghan side. We all need to do better.”

He said the emergence of a strong civil society and democratic government in Pakistan is a good sign for the country, “despite current turbulence.”

It is my hope and expectation that Pakistan will overcome the situation, he said in response to a question.

“I understand Pakistan has many problems but my hope and expectation is that Pakistan will work through the problems.”

The United States, he said, should not completely withdraw from Afghanistan in two years and must leave a residual force behind.

“I strongly believe that a residual American force is good for America, good for Afghanistan and good for Pakistan.”

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